Thursday, November 5, 2009

Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Rain beats against my office window signaling the end of fall, the beginning of winter. With the time change it's now dark at six and it won't be long before it'll be dark at four. It's always hard to adjust to, but it's easier to get the boys to bed than when it's still light at ten. Rain also serves another purpose: to put to test my drying-in of Molly.

The front sliders leak. But I found where and it was an easy fix. I had a small fright when I saw water dripping out from behind the new birch ceiling. What the--?! I'm sure you've been there. I scampered around trying to think what it could be when I remembered I had not tightened the AC completely. It was only finger tight. Maybe that was it! I ran to my shop for a wrench and back to Molly to tighten. The leak stopped. Hooray. All the other roof repairs have held nicely.

Molly is dry!

Here's her ceiling without the trim pieces:

This shot combines the ceiling with the finished wall. The wall panels are mahogany. Where the bottom left panel ends there will be a closet; also, a permanent seat will placed beneath the window. This area, by the way, used to be the galley.

Notice if you will the new windows. The long one on the wall was where the stove vent once was; you can see the other under the steering wheel.

Where the hanging closet will go. Why did I paint the vent stack red? Because I could.

The passenger side:

Let me tell you, curving 1/8 inch sheet material has its challenges. I used a lever made from two 2x4s with an old diaper taped on so as not to mar the wood. It worked beautifully. Basically the same trick I used to use to install drywall on ceilings when I worked solo.

I have been steadfastly ignoring the dirt on the dash, but I finally applied myself to it (a little bit).

Don't worry; I have the wiring all figured out.

Gingerly, I removed the face of the dash from around the speedo. It was broken in four places. With the application of some super glue and a squirt of Armor All, I was gladened to see this:

While doing the walls I've been keeping an eye on the area that will become the new galley. I had intended to leave the breaker box on the bulkhead, but something told me it would be better to move the damn thing. Dodge used 10 gauge wire, so I did too. I put it here, inside where the cabinet will be (it will have its own access panel).

I don't have the picture within easy reach, but there are two long panels that bracket the bathroom door. The bathroom door that used to have a mirror in it. One of the sheets of ply I bought kept telling me not to cut it yet, to save it for something special. That something special turned out to be this:

Nice figuring, eh? It will be a delight to the eyes. Remember, I'm approaching Molly as if she were a boat. To this end I purchased a marine alcohol stove.

It's simple, elegant, portable and made entirely of SS. The fuel is non-explosive and, seeing as how I own a distillery, I can get the alcohol for free.

Whadda deal.

I don't know how much more work will take place this winter. I'm getting very busy with the business, and of course there's always money. I would however like to get a leg up on the ceiling cabinets and the solar panel installed. I have enough material to complete one non-structural bulkhead and the hanging closet. Our (my) goal is to get Molly on the open road late next summer. Maybe in the fall. We want to get back to the Wallowa Mountains, as well as the John Day fossil beds. Eastern Oregon still holds a lot of surprise for us. We love it over there and can't wait to go back.

In Molly.

Good tidings to you all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sky's the Limit

Winter is coming in and I have other irons in the fire so I'm trying to get as much done on Molly as I can. The wood for the walls and ceiling have been sitting waiting for weeks. It was time to get to work.

I had saved the old ceiling panels to use as templates. I was actually able to get the fit so tight I was able to use the old screw holes. I had to hand sand a few edges to make them pop in flat, but that made me feel like a cabinetmaker and that's always nice.

Most of the window and vent frames are painted now, and I'm excited to see how they'll look against the birch and mahogany.

Here I go...

Although I always mean to, I hardly ever have the camera handy when I need it. The above is actually the last panel I installed. I used a wedging tool made from two pieces of wood I could join together with screws to make different lengths (for the varying heights of the floors). Of course it was padded, and with best padding in the world--a diaper.

The wood almost wants to bend to the cab wall's radius. The first piece I installed I scored along the length where the bend would be, then wet it with really hot water. I didn't do all that on the second panel and experienced similar results. So enough with the scoring and wetting.

Here's a shot of the stern:

The panel on your right was my first. I followed the templates exactly and for the most part they were excellent guides. But for some reason they were cut a bit shy of where the windowtrim will go, resulting in a dodgey problem. When I ripped out the original headliner I discovered two wood brackets designed to hold a speaker. There were already wires leading to them. Why they weren't ever cut open and used I'll never know. Maybe it was considered an upgrade to have two speakers in the back of the bus. Who cares? Fact was, I wanted those speakers. You can see where their cables drop down.

And yes I know the wood doesn't reach all the way back. Funny thing, the front panels are about seven feet long, while the ceiling space in the back is longer than eight. The original panels were manufactured to fit. But sheet goods are standardized at 4 x 8, so there's a gap. But I'm not sweating it because I'm going to build a cabinet that will span the space above the window anyway.

With the newly painted vent trim:

So it's beginning to feel like things are moving along quickly. One thing flashed on me from my contractor days: you look at an open wall for weeks and weeks and think you know where everything is. But then the sheet rock goes on. Where the hell did everything go? I used to take lots of pictures, sometimes even elevations. In Molly all of a sudden I couldn't find the metal ribbing. So I thought about using my metal detector. But there's so much metal in Molly's frame that it was going crazy. So I had to trust the pencil marks I made for screws off the template. It was gravy after that.

Always after a rodent-free-smelling Molly, I decided to coat the deck with good old Kilz. Jenna says it smells neutral now. Another notch.

And finally, for Bob. I meant to take a picture last time but then forgot. Here it is now. I love the bracket. Looked them up: $75.00 I would have passed. Thanks to you I didn't have to.

I have four of the lights, two on either sides.

As we move deeper into fall I want to wish whoever is reading stays well and healthy. Wash hands wash hands wash hands. And have a happy fall.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Door of Perception

Molly's door was in bad shape. The interior panel had peeled in places (water intrusion), and the frame's welds had broken in two places. After an embarrassing interlude spent applying bondo and JB Weld, it dawned on me that this was aluminum. Being aluminum, the surface was slippery and no amount of glue was gonna hold. It would need welding. Luckily, in the next town over, a small farming center, I located a fellow who said he could weld aluminum. I tossed the frame parts into my trailer and pedaled over. He took a look and said "Fifty dollars." That sounded fair to me. Now Molly's door frame is solid.

By the way, about the door molding you see coiled on the door. I saved a sample of the old, crumbling one and took it to Guaranty RV Parts Department here in town. The guy behind the counter wrinkled his nose and told me to wait. He disappeared into the back for a while, just long enough for my two boys to become restless. When he reappeared, he held this coil of self-adhering rubber molding. "I only have sixteen feet," he reported. Coincidentally, that was how much I needed. Things were looking good. I figured I'd spend $20 here, then go buy some hose and maybe a... "That'll be ninety-six dollars." NINETY-SIX DOLLARS?! For sixteen feet of rubber? But I was cool. Didn't ruffle a feather. I gave him the last of my money and carried the coil outside. On the sidewalk an older gent who had been behind me when in the store asked, "How do you feel?" I said the only word that made any sense: raped. He grinned. That probably cost them ten bucks. You're lucky you got out with both your children."

So, I had a vision... Air Stream vision. What if I went bare metal and buffed it out? How would it look? If it didn't look good, it was just my time. So I drilled out the old rivets and...

...went to work.

Reassembled, and the window frame sprayed (I didn't stay with the red, but went green instead):

I was pleased. Here's the finished product:

And installed (with Eternabond and SS screws):

The frame and hinges were acid cleaned, wire brushed and painted metallic silver.

Molly is now officially dried in. I want to thank father-in-law Bob for the SS antenna base. It's installed, along with 14 LED lights. Winter rains, here we come!

One final shot of Molly's new batwing antenna:


Sunday, August 23, 2009

End of Summer Summation

I managed to do a little rattlecan on Molly last week. The front needed to be renewed. Of course, it makes the bumper looks worse. I'm looking for chrome rings for the amber lights.

Another view, and a reminder to fix the "hood."

The Dometic reefer cover is returned, attached with No. 8 inch-and-a-half SS screws into a new cedar frame. Looks likes she's wearing white dancing shoes.

The door frame came off in three pieces. This is me JB Welding them back together. After that, I stripped the paint and used steel wool to buff it out.

Walking home, I had the camera and, well, couldn't resist. If you look you'll see a new window between the first and second from the front. More about that later.

I've found new LED clearance lights and will have them on as soon as they arrive. I was also able to track down a water heater door (and possibly the WH itself). Thanks to Trish for that. I also spoke with Kevin, who sold me the AC: he has a crank-up antenna he's willing to part with for cheap. And I may have found some affordable PV panels. Can't afford solar now, but in the not too distant future...

I haven't been able to work much recently, and we're leaving next Thursday for four days with the inlaws. When we come back it will be September, and time to bear down on getting Molly rainproof.

That's all for now. May this find you well.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Winter is icummin in...

So you see we're running out of time. Winter is around the corner, it's time to lay in firewood. The rains are coming and Molly needs to be buttoned up. To this end, I've shifted focus from the interior to the exterior. New stack vent cap; repaired reefer vent (even though there will be no refrigerator); new ceiling vent; new AC; the door is off and the rotted jamb are some pictures:

Starting from the stern, Molly's facelift includes (besides rinse and perm): all screws replaced by SS; new tail plate light, and the spare gets primer.

At the other end, 23 feet away, the same thing: all new SS (I really dig stainless); the grille will be cleaned and the black repainted. The front plate had to be ground off. (Yes, that's the door and screen safely out of the way of wood chopping.)

Here you can see the new jamb (really, just a backboard. The other was rotted.) and the rust preventive. And the firewood. I can already feel a chill in the air.

Looking inside the door, you will one day encounter a hanging closet. Formerly the galley, the slot in the wall was for the stove fan. I'm going to straighten out the edges and make it a bit longer, then turn it into a window. Natural illumination for the closet. The bulkhead to the left will be sheathed with mahogany. (The glue is from the old plastic mirror that begged me to destroy it.)

I had no idea what it was but I was in a frenzy of replacing things, so I went out and found one that matched the original orange FRAM. The guy at CarQuest had no idea what it was for. He looked it up: air brake filter. Change every 5,000 miles. Done.

The forward side vents were trashed. Maybe I could find some one day, but would they match my color? (Ha!) Maybe I could have a pair fabricated, but could I afford to? (No!) So I thought about all the trucks I've seen that has a little window near the floor. I rushed out and bought some stick of aluminum L bracket, ripped it down to match the plexi's thickness, grabbed a hacksaw and some SS screws and made this:

Another view (ain't the white wheels pimp?):

Looking forward: this will be segregated sort of from the rest of the coach, thus permitting some privacy for the sleepers (2). There is a hatch in the center of the platform. The table will store beneath and mount in this area. Two benches will face one another and provide a "stateroom" feel:

View two:

As long as I'm standing inside the door, here's a wad of J B Weld (great stuff):

Lest I forget the new fuel pump (at least it's easy to access):

The rear "stateroom." The Master's cabin. And the Mistress. Let's not forget the Mistress.
Storage underneath:

Left will be the pantry/food prep area. Below is a shot of the three hatches allowing access to storage as well as the wiring harness, converter, water pump/heater, etc.

Structurally, Molly seems fine. When I'm finished in a couple weeks (?) there will be no leaks. Then I can get back to the inside. Since I can't afford solar panels right now, I'll pre-wire and wait. I have a vented area set aside for 4 batteries.

That's it for now. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Molly at 109 (F)

When it's this hot, work has to be done (if at all) first thing in the morning. Last week Judy, our friend and babysitter (nanny?) was here three days and enabled me to make some real progress.

Even though it doesn't look like it.

Here is the front "cabin" for sitting, hanging out, and sleeping the boys:

The platform also will provide more storage (as will one of the seats).

Next, the deluxe suite for jenna and me (and, of course, more and more storage):

A shot of what will become the galley (don't ask):

A few other details follow.

Removing boots from pedals and steering column (in the background is the new vent frame).

Water lines beginning to be replaced (must sanitize the tank):

The windows made operable!

Frame for sidewall vent:

I also sandblasted and painted the wheels:

Molly lurks in our back yard, waiting for more (note the new AC on her roof!):

I've purchased most of the interior and it waits patiently for me in the shop. The walls will be mahogany, the ceiling birch, the floors a mix of cork and rubber. Can't wait to get there...